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Catawba man gets 45-year term on child rape charge

NEWTON -- A Catawba County man could spend the rest of his life in prison, after being convicted Thursday on seven felony charges involving sexual assault of minors.

Max Tracy Earls, 49, of Conover, was convicted by a jury after a three-day trial in Catawba County Superior Court. He was sentenced by Judge Richard Boner to between 45 and 55 1/2 years in prison.

Earls was arrested June 30, 2011, after authorities say two victims came forward and said they had been assaulted. The alleged offenses took place in June and November 2010.

Earls was found guilty of first-degree rape of a child, statutory rape, and five related felony charges.

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